Monsanto Co. has reached an important regulatory milestone that will advance the development of foods with reduced saturated fat and reduced or no trans-fats.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a response letter to Monsanto's Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) notification. The FDA's letter supports the use of oil from Vistive Gold soybeans under the intended conditions of use.

The GRAS status enables food companies to develop and test foods containing this nutritionally improved soybean oil, which is an important step toward offering consumers the benefit from this oil in a variety of food products such as French fries or crackers.

"This product could offer farmers and the food industry an opportunity to help meet a growing demand for healthier foods," says Roy Fuchs, Monsanto's global technology lead for oilseeds. "Vistive Gold provides a glimpse into the next-generation of soybean products that can bring direct health benefits to consumers. We also expect farmers to benefit from the premium pricing opportunity the market is likely to offer for this oil once it's commercialized."

The company has completed U.S. regulatory submissions to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and FDA, and has made numerous regulatory submissions to the appropriate regulatory agencies around the world for the product. Upon completion of the necessary regulatory processes, food companies will be able to purchase this new food oil and sell healthier food prepared with this oil.

This second-generation product builds on Monsanto's existing Vistive soybeans by providing food companies with a more stable soybean oil for baking applications or for frying, cracker and snack food production. It also can lower levels of saturated fat and eliminates trans-fats.

"A product like Vistive Gold is exciting because it may offer a healthier option to allow people to enjoy some of their favorite foods without the worry of consuming too much saturated or trans-fat," says Nutrition Communication Consultant Connie Diekman, who is past president of the American Dietetic Association. "Small steps toward healthier eating can add up and really make a positive difference."